Bouchon Bakery Serves the Best Donut in California

Ask yourself: What, exactly, is a donut? At The Daily Meal, we define a donut as an item that you would expect to see in a donut shop: the familiar ones we know and love (of both the raised and cake varieties), like crullers, apple fritters, and other donut-shop classics — you know them when you see them.

So, in order to assemble our most-recent ranking of the 25 best in the country, we more than doubled the number on the previous list from the year before. We stuck to strict criteria in looking for the best individual donuts in America: Freshness is key; are these legendary donuts — ones that inspire cultish devotion to the shop that sells them? We considered both plain glazed and extravagantly topped creations, but there must be a balance between all the components, be it bacon or blueberry jelly. Most importantly, these donuts need to be almost too good: fresh, soft, gooey, perfectly proportioned, and intended to leave you wanting just one more bite. There were over two dozen we believed deserved to be included on our list, and as it turns out, four can be found in California.

Every Saturday and Sunday morning, a handful of donuts in several varieties are fried up at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro before it opens for lunch and are served (very quickly) at his next-door bakery. At about $3 each, they’re certainly not cheap, but the rich confections of brioche-like, buttery dough filled with fresh-made, seasonal preserves demonstrate creative ingenuity and an adherence to only fresh, seasonal ingredients, and the end result is something the country’s most renowned chef can be proud to tack his name to.

They’re so good, they made it all the way to #4 on our national list, beating out the peanut butter, banana, and chocolate chips donut at Stan’s Donuts in L.A. (#5); the blueberry cake donut at Danny’s Donuts in Vista (#6); and the fresh peach and strawberry donut at The Donut Man in Glendora (#10) This means that chef Keller’s seasonal jelly donut is not only the fourth-best donut in the country, it’s also the title winner of the best donut in California.

Bouchon Bakery's Chantillys

FIRST, a French friend brings a spectacular homemade dessert to dinner. It’s a Paris-Brest -- a large ring of choux paste sliced horizontally, filled with praline pastry cream and whipped cream and topped with toasted almonds. Next, Thomas Keller opens Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center in New York City, with a whole section on the dessert menu dedicated to pastries made with choux paste, or as it’s called in French, pate a choux.

Could a pate a choux revival be coming?

And what is pate a choux, anyway?

Also known as cream puff pastry, choux paste is the basis of eclairs and profiteroles -- that’s on the dessert side -- and gougeres (cheese puffs) on the savory side. Though most often baked, it can also be poached (for Parisian gnocchi) or deep fried (for beignets or chichis, the French version of churros).

But choux paste is also the foundation of a panoply of other fabulous desserts. Just ask Sebastien Rouxel, executive pastry chef of Bouchon Bakery and Per Se. Besides classic chocolate eclairs, the retail pastry case at the New York City Bouchon is filled with delicate, cream-filled Chantillys, individual-sized wheel-shaped Paris-Brests and gorgeous little religieuses, named for the color of the fondant icing, which is said to match the color of the robes of French nuns, or religieuses. Irresistible? You bet.

The best news: As sophisticated and delicious as these desserts are, choux pastry couldn’t be easier to make at home. Unlike, say, puff pastry, which requires hours and hours of mixing and rolling and chilling and more rolling and chilling -- and may not turn out well if the weather doesn’t cooperate -- choux paste can be made in all of about 15 minutes. And it’s virtually foolproof.

All you do is bring water, butter, salt (and sometimes sugar) to a boil, dump in flour, stir it in and cook it to “dry” the mixture. Let it cool, then beat in eggs one at a time until the dough is smooth and satiny. That’s the choux paste.

Spoon it (for cream puffs or profiteroles) or pipe it (for fancier desserts) onto a baking sheet. Baked at a high temperature -- 400 degrees -- it puffs up dramatically, hollowing out in the process.

All that remains is dressing it up -- by filling it with pastry cream, creme pralinee, ice cream or mousse, dusting with powdered sugar, topping with whipped cream or glazing with fondant. You get the idea.

ROUXEL says that while pate a choux pastries may not loom large in the American imagination, they’re a happy reminder of childhood for a Frenchman. “It was like a small present you got from your parents,” he says, recalling treats such as Chantillys or eclairs.

Rouxel’s version of the Chantilly veers from the traditional swan shape instead it looks rather like a miniature basket. Though traditional Chantillys are made with the whipped cream that gives them their name (creme Chantilly is whipped cream), Rouxel gains tangy complexity by layering vanilla pastry cream with whipped, sweetened creme fraiche.

One of the most amusing -- and impressive -- of choux pastries is the Paris-Brest, a ring-shaped pate a choux filled with praline pastry cream and whipped cream and topped with toasted almonds. Legend has it that the wheel-shaped dessert was created by a pastry chef in honor of a bicycle race between Paris and Brest. Jacques Pepin’s “La Technique” cookbook includes a definitive recipe.

Michel Roux, renowned chef at the Waterside Inn in Bray, England, has given choux paste its due in his new cookbook, “Eggs.” In it, he offers a recipe for wonderful little choux buns filled with a mousse that marries the unlikely, yet delicious, combination of Drambuie and coffee. Unlike profiteroles, which are sliced open and filled, these buns get their filling piped in through a small hole, so the mousse comes as a charmingly explosive surprise inside. “These little choux buns make a lovely dessert,” writes Roux, “but I also like to serve them as a teatime treat.” They’re finished with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or cocoa.

There are a few tips to keep in mind when making pate a choux. First, add the flour all at once to the water, salt and melted butter and stir it off-heat until it is completely blended. A very important step is to return the pot to the heat and “dry” the puff pastry while beating the paste constantly. You will notice a thin film of cooked dough on the bottom of the pot when the dough is ready. This can take three to six minutes depending on how much paste you are making.

At this point transfer the dough to a bowl. This will prevent any cooked crusty bits from getting into the dough when you add the eggs.

Let the dough cool a few minutes before beating in the eggs to avoid cooking the egg whites. Add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture with a wooden spoon, whisk or mixer into a smooth batter after each egg is added. This will help to avoid lumpy dough.

The dough can either be spooned or piped onto a buttered and floured baking sheet or parchment paper. Smooth down any peaks or points on the piped dough with a finger dipped in a little cold water so the tips do not burn during baking.

The pastries should be golden brown and crisp when they are done baking. Cut a slit in each cooked puff to allow steam to escape and the puffs will stay crisp.

Cut and fill the pastries just before serving so that the shells don’t soften.



1 cup milk
1/3 tsp. malt syrup
1 1/3 cups bread flour
1 T dried yeast

1/4 cup candied orange peel
1/4 cup candied lemon peel
1 cup dried currants
3 T dark rum

1 jumbo egg
1/3 cup butter
3/4 T honey
2 cups bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice

1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups butter (warm and melted)
1 egg
1 1/3 T vanilla

2/3 cup water
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. orange blossom water

1 Stand mixer with bowl, paddle attachment, and a hook attachment
1 Cookie sheet pan with rim

Yountville: Bouchon Bakery - Really decent jelly donuts and swell potato chips

If this has been mentioned before, sorry. Chowhound is just so slow these days that searching is too much of a pain. Nothing that really jumped out in the search.

The raspberry jelly donuts are really fine. It is the fresh raspberry filling that makes the donut. It is nicely dusted with powdered sugar and the donut itself is nice. It is $3 but done so well that I didn't mind paying that . especially for that filling . unlike another $3 donut maker who shall remain unnamed.

They also had a donut filled with apple butter and a great looking chocolate donut. They chocolate donut looked like it had chocolate chips on top and I've never had an apple butter donut. I wanted to compare it to a donut I was familiar with and I know raspberry jelly donuts.

I did find a reference to the potato chips where someone said they tasted like supermarket chips . then tell me what brand that is exactly because I'd stock up on them. I had to put the bag in the back seat out of reach so I wouldn't gobble them up before I got home . then I got home and gobbled them up.

Excellent potato flavor, nice crunch, a medium cut which wasn't too thick and nicely salted.

Has anyone tried the quiche, soup, sandwiches at Bouchon Bakery? Anything worth the price?

PS: It looks like they reduced the size of the macaron since I was there a few days ago. It is still larger than most, but it seems about 1/3 smaller than it was.

Thomas Keller's Chocolate Bouchons (Bouchons au Chocolate)

These small, brownie-like cakes from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery are named for their shape, which resembles a cork, or bouchon in French they are very rich and chocolaty, baked with the chocolate chips in the batter and dusted with confectioners' sugar.


Butter and flour for the timbale molds

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly warm

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, such as Valrhona Equatoriale (55%), chopped into pieces the size of chocolate chips
Confectioners' sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Butter and flour 12 timbale molds (Bouchon Bakery uses 2-ounce Fleximolds and serves smaller bouchons. You can also use 3-ounce [2- to 2 1/2-inch diameter] timbale molds for larger cakes.) Set aside.

3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until very pale in color. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then one-third of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to a day.)

4. Put the timbale molds on a baking sheet. Place the batter in a pastry bag without a tip, and fill each mold about two-thirds full. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test one cake with a toothpick: It should come out clean but not dry (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate). Transfer the bouchons to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the timbale molds and let the bouchons cool upside down in the molds then lift off the molds.

5. To serve, invert the bouchons and dust them with confectioners' sugar. Serve with ice cream if desired. (The bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked.)

THE Dish: Chef Thomas Keller's "Bouchon Bakery" Quiche Lorraine

Chef Thomas Keller has won just about every award you can imagine for a chef and restauranteur, including Michelin three-star honors for Per Se, in New York City, and The French Laundry in California's Napa Valley.

He has just published his fifth cookbook, "Bouchon Bakery," with pastry chef Sebastien Rouxel.

On "CBS This Morning: Saturday" for THE Dish" segment, Keller served up Quiche Lorraine and other delicious goodies.

Bacon and Onion Quiche - Quiche Lorraine

1 pound slab bacon, cut into lardons about 1 1/2 inches long and 3/8 inch thick

2 cups Onion Confit (see below)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons chopped thyme

1/2 cup grated Comté or Emmentaler cheese

Basic Quiche Shell (see below)

Basic Quiche Batter (see below)

Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 deg. F.

Spread the bacon on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has rendered its fat the bacon will not be crisp at this point. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 deg. F.

Combine the onion confit and bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and thyme, then stir together until warm, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Scatter 1/4 cup of the cheese and half the onion mixture evenly into the cooled quiche shell (still on the baking sheet). Blend the quiche batter again to aerate it, then pour in enough of the batter to cover the ingredients and fill the quiche shell approximately halfway. Top the batter with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and the remaining onion mixture. Blend the remaining batter and fill the quiche shell all the way to the top. (If you don't have a very steady hand, you might spill some of the batter on the way to the oven fill the shell most of the way, then pour the final amount of batter on top once the quiche is on the oven rack.)

Bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, or until the top of the quiche is browned and the custard is set when the pan is jiggled. Remove the quiche from the oven and let cool to room temperature on a rack. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 day, or up to 3 days.

Once the quiche is thoroughly chilled, using a metal bench scraper or a sharp knife, scrape away the excess crust from the top edge. Tilt the ring on its side, with the bottom of the quiche facing you, and run a small paring knife between the crust and the ring to release the quiche. Set the quiche down and carefully lift off the ring. Return to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To serve: Preheat the oven to 375 deg.F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper.

Using a long serrated knife and supporting the sides of the crust, carefully cut through the edge of the crust in a sawing motion. Switch to a long slicing knife and cut through the custard and bottom crust. Repeat, cutting the quiche into 8 pieces. Place the pieces on the baking sheet and reheat for 15 minutes, or until hot throughout. To check, insert a metal skewer into the quiche for several seconds and then touch the skewer to your lip to test the temperature of the quiche.

Makes enough for one 9-inch quiche

In this p»te brisée dough, it's crucial that the butter be completely incorporated, with no visible specks remaining. Although pieces of butter will make a dough flaky, they would leave holes in the quiche crust and the batter would leak out. Save the dough trimmings to repair any cracks. This crust is a little thicker than some: You want the custard to set before it soaks all the way through. Also, as the quiche chills, moisture from the custard will weep into the crust. If the crust is too thin, it will become soggy rather than crisp.

2 cups (about 12 ounces) all-purpose flour, sifted, plus additional flour for rolling

8 ounces chilled unsalted butter, cut into »-inch pieces

Place 1 cup of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the butter a small handful at a time. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is completely blended with the flour. Reduce the speed, add the remaining flour, and mix just to combine. Add the water and mix until incorporated. The dough will come around the paddle and should feel smooth, not sticky, to the touch.

Remove the dough from the mixer and check to be certain that there are no visible pieces of butter remaining if necessary, return the dough to the mixer and mix briefly again. Pat the dough into a 7- to 8-inch disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to a day. (If the dough does not rest, it will shrink as it bakes.)

Lightly brush the inside of a 9-by-2-inch-hgh ring mold with canola oil and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Place the dough on a floured work surface and rub on all sides with flour. Flatten it into a larger circle using a rolling pin or the heel of your hand. Roll the rolling pin back and forth across the dough a few times, then turn it 90 degrees and roll again. Continue to turn and roll until the dough is 3/16 inch thick and about 14 inches in diameter. (If the kitchen is hot and the dough has become very soft, move it to a baking sheet and refrigerate for a few minutes.

To lift the dough into the ring, place the rolling pin across the dough about one-quarter of the way up from the bottom edge, fold the bottom edge of dough up and over the pin, and roll the dough up on the rolling pin. Lift the dough on the pin, hold it over the top edge of the ring and unroll the dough over the mold, centering it. Carefully lower the dough into the ring, pressing it gently against the sides and into the bottom corners of the ring. Trim any dough that extends more than an inch over the sides of the mold and reserve the scraps. Fold the excess dough over against the outside of the ring. (Preparing the quiche shell this way will prevent it from shrinking down the sides as it bakes. The excess dough will be removed after the quiche is baked.) Carefully check for any cracks or holes in the dough, and patch with the reserved dough as necessary. Place in the refrigerator or freezer for at least 20 minutes to resolidify the butter. Reserve the remaining dough scraps.

Put a rack set in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 deg.F.

Line the quiche shell with a 16-inch round of parchment. Fill the shell with pie weights or dried beans, gently guiding the weights into the corners of the shell and filling the shell completely.

Bake the shell for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the edges of the dough are lightly browned but the bottom is still light in color.

Carefully remove the parchment and weights. Check the dough for any new cracks or holes and patch with the thin pieces of the reserved dough if necessary. Return the shell to the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bottom is a rich golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the shell to cool completely on the baking sheet. Once again, check the dough for any cracks or holes, and patch if necessary before filling with the quiche batter.

Makes enough for one 9-inch quiche: 8 servings

Using a blender aerates the batter and makes a very light quiche. The directions here are for a standard-size blender. However, the ingredients can be combined in one batch if you use an immersion blender or a large-capacity professional blender. Be sure to reblend the batter for a few seconds before pouring each layer of the quiche.

There may be a little excess batter, depending on how much air is incorporated into the batter as it is blended. The quiche may sink slightly as it bakes, so check it after about twenty minutes and, if there is room, you can add a bit more of the batter to the top. Any remaining batter can be baked in custard cups.

The quiche needs to be thoroughly chilled before it's cut, so make your quiche at least a day, or up to three days, before serving it.

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

Combine the milk and cream in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat until scalded (meaning a skin begins to form on the surface). Remove from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes before continuing.

Put 3 eggs, half the milk and cream mixture, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, and 3 gratings of nutmeg in a blender and blend in low speed for a few seconds to combine the ingredients. Increase the speed to high and blend for 30 seconds to minute, or until the batter is light and foamy.

This is the first layer of the quiche. Once you have assembled it, add the remaining ingredients to the blender and repeat the process to complete the quiche.

Onion confit is simply onions cooked very slowly in a little water and butter to bring out all the onions' sweetness without coloring them. It can be used in all kinds of dishes--from fish to potatoes and green vegetables to quiche.

About 2 1/2 pounds (2 to 3 large) Spanish onions

8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Cut off the tops and bottoms of the onions and cut the onions lengthwise in half. Remove the peel and outer layers. Cut a V wedge in the bottom of each half to remove the core and pull out any solid flat pieces from the center.

Lay and onion half cut side down on a cutting board with the root end toward you. There are lines on the outside of the onion cut along these lines (the grain) rather than against them to help the onions soften more quickly. Holding the knife almost parallel to the board, slice the onion lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, following the lines of the onion. Once you cut past the center of the onion, the knife angle will become awkward: Flip the onion onto its side (toward the knife), return the knife to the original position, and finish cutting the onion. Separate the slices of onion, trimming away any root sections that are still attached. Repeat with the remaining onions. (You should have about 8 cups of onions.)

Warm 1/4 cup of water in a large pot over low heat. Add the butter and whisky gently to melt. Add the onions, salt, and bouquet garni, stir to combine, and place a parchment lid on top, pressing it against the onions. Cook very slowly, stirring the onions every 20 to 30 minutes at first, more often toward the end of cooking, for about 2 hours. The onions will wilt and steam will rise, but they should not brown.

Check the onions after about 30 minutes: If they seem lost in the pot, transfer to a smaller pot and cut down the parchment lid to fit. If there is a lot of liquid remaining at this point, you can turn up the heat slightly to cook a bit more rapidly.

After about 2 hours, the onions will have softened but should not be falling apart there still may be liquid left in the pot. Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Let the onions cool in their liquid.

Transfer the onions, with their liquid, to a plastic container and refrigerate for up to a week. Drain the confit before using.

For out standard bouquet garni, we use leek greens as a wrapper to hold the herbs and spices. We use a bouquet garni for seasoning when the broth or other liquid will be strained. When the liquid will not be strained, we wrap the ingredients in cheesecloth instead, making a sachet that keeps the spices from falling into the liquid and can easily be removed at the end of cooking.

2 or 3 pieces dark green out leek leaves (6 to 7 inches long), washed

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

To make a bouquet garni: Lay out 1 leek green. Place the herbs and peppercorns on top and wrap in the remaining leaf or leaves to forma circular bundle tie securely with kitchen twine in at least three spots.

Vanilla Macarons (base for Raspberry Macaron recipe)

1 3/4 cups + 2 1/2 tablespoons (212 grams) almond flour/meal

1 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons powdered sugar

1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons egg whites

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (90 grams) egg whites

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1 cup + 3 tablespoons (236 grams) granulated sugar, plus a pinch for the egg whites

Vanilla Buttercream Filling

1 cup + 2 tablespoons French Buttercream

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

You'll need a Thermapen or other candy thermometer, a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip, and a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Baking in a convection oven is preferable the tops of macarons baked in a standard oven often develop small speckles, which can affect the texture (though not the flavor).

For the macarons: Because the cookies will be sandwiched, it is important that they be as close in size as possible. Even if you are proficient with a pastry bag, we suggest making a template, as we do. Use a compass or a cookie cutter as a guide and a dark marking pen, such as a fine-tip Sharpie.

Lay a sheet of parchment paper on the work surface with a long side closest to you. Trace 4 evenly spaced 2 1/4-inch circles along the top long edge, leaving 1 inch of space around them. Trace 3 circles below them, spacing them between the first circles. Continue with another row of 4, followed by another row of 3. Turn the parchment over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up each corner of the parchment and spray the underside with nonstick spray to keep it from blowing up while the cookies are baking. Repeat with a second sheet pan and piece of parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg.F (convection) or 400 deg.F (standard).

Place the almond flour in a food processor and pulse to grind it as fine as possible.

Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. Mound the almond flour mixture, then make a 4-inch well in the center, leaving a layer of the flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams/ 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons egg whites and combine with a spatula. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Set aside.

Place the remaining 90 grams/ 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams/1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and the water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 203 deg.F/110 deg.C.

Letting the syrup continue to cook, add the pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 deg.F/120 deg.C, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.

When the syrup reaches 248 deg.F/120 deg.C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed, and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk the meringue will deflate. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm to the touch, the meringue should have cooled if not, continue to whip until it is cool.

Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at a time (you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the "ribbon" slowly moves. The mixture shouldn't be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn't be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon it is better for the mixture to be slightly stiff than too loose.

Transfer the mixture to the pastry bag with the H-inch tip. Hold the bag upright H inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough of the mixture to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the pastry bag.

If using a convection oven, bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. If using a standard oven, place the sheet pan in the oven, immediately lower the oven temperature to 325 deg.F, and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. If using a standard oven, preheat it to 350 deg.F again.

Pipe the remaining meringue mixture into the circles on the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely.

For the Filling: Place the buttercream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium-low speed until smooth and fluffy. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean, add them to the buttercream, and mix on low for about 30 seconds to distribute the seeds evenly.

To fill the cookies: Transfer the buttercream to the pastry bag with the 3/8-inch tip.

Remove the macarons from the parchment paper. Turn half of them over. Starting in the center, pipe 15 grams/1 tablespoon of the buttercream in a spiral pattern on one upside-down macaron, not quite reaching the edges. Top with a second macaron and press gently to spread the buttercream to the edges. Repeat with the remaining macarons and filling.

The macarons are best if wrapped individually in a few layers of plastic wrap and frozen for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then bring to room temperature before serving. They can be served the day they are made or stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

For this recipe, we use Chefmaster Liqua-Gel Rose Pink food coloring.

For the macarons, omit the vanilla bean and fold 3 or 4 drops pink food coloring into the finished meringue mixture. For the filling, substitute 200 grams/1 1/3 cups Basic Buttercream for the French Buttercream and omit the vanilla bean. Beat the buttercream as directed, then add 50 grams/2 tablespoons Raspberry Jam and mix for 1 minute, or until evenly combined. If adding a jam center (see Note), use 80 grams/3 1/2 tablespoons additional Raspberry Jam.

Note: At the bakery, we sometimes fill the macarons with "bull's-eyes" (see following page). Pipe buttercream around the edge of each bottom macaron and then place a small amount of curd or jam in the center of each.

Be creative with buttercream and flavor centers. For example, we like to make a peanut butter and jelly macaron. Peanut butter buttercream is piped around the edge and the center is filled with jam.

We color the shells with a combination of Chefmaster Buckeye Brown, Violet, and Red-Red.

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon egg whites

3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar

2 tablespoons + 2 1/4 teaspoons (33 grams)

3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (42 grams) water

8 ounces (227 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature

Buttercream is one of the most important basics in the pastry kitchen. It's not essential that you use a high-fat butter, just the best quality butter you have access to.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Place the 150 grams/ 3/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan, add the water, and stir to moisten the sugar.

Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, and simmer until the syrup reaches 230 deg./100deg.C.

Letting the syrup continue to cook, turn the mixer to medium speed, gradually pour in the remaining 33 grams/2 tablespoons plus 2 1/4 teaspoons sugar into the whites, and whip until the whites are beginning to form very loose peaks. If the whites are ready before the syrup reaches 248 deg.F/120 deg.C, turn the mixer to the lowest setting just to keep them moving.

When the syrup reaches 248 deg.F/120 deg.C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup to the whites, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk. Increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for 15 minutes, or until the bottom of the bowl is at room temperature and the whites hold stiff peaks. (If the mixture is warm, it will melt the butter.)

Raspberry or Cherry Jam

Makes 1 1/4 cups (460 grams)

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (62 grams) granulated sugar

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (62 grams) granulated sugar

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (10 grams) apple pectin

17.6 ounces (500 grams) Raspberry or cherry puree

Raspberry is the pastry chef's go-to fruit. It has a perfect sweet-tart balance that works well in countless desserts. Raspberry jam can be spread on cookies or on croissants or used to add an extra dimension to a tart. And it's very easy to make: simply bring all the ingredients to a simmer long enough for the pectin--the gelling agent--to activate, and you're done. You can also make a cherry version.

For this recipe, we use Boiron or Perfect Puree fruit puree.

Line a sheet pan with a Silpat. Combine 62 grams/ 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar and the pectin in a small bowl.

Combine the fruit puree with the remaining 62 grams/ 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons sugar in a nonreactive pot, preferably lined copper, and stir over medium-high heat until it comes to a rolling boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. Stir in the pectin mixture and continue to stir as it comes to a boil. Boil, stirring for 3 minutes to activate the pectin. Pour the jam onto the prepared pan and let cool to room temperature.

Transfer the jam to a covered container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Sweet treat: America's best doughnuts

We’ve all been there. That alarm clock goes off, the questionable outfit’s been picked, the dreary commute commences, and we’re craving a small treat — something familiar and delicious — before the workday begins. Enter: doughnuts.

It’s hard (but not impossible) to go wrong with sweet, deep-fried dough. But there are some places that just, well, do it better than others. They use unique ingredients. They pile on never-before-seen toppings. Or they just serve up a hot, fresh doughnut that melts in your mouth.

Let’s take a moment to give some serious praise to the Dutch, who are largely credited with inventing doughnuts in the 19th century. They started frying up balls of dough, but there was a problem: cooking the treats all the way through, without burning the outside. One solution? Fill the center with fruit or nuts. The other? Punch a hole in the middle.

Of course, doughnuts really began to take off in the mid 1900s, after Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts were founded (1937 and 1950, respectively). Today, you can pretty much get a doughnut no matter where you are. But if you have a choice, why settle for cold, flavorless calories?

Instead, head to a place like Bouchon Bakery, in Yountville, Calif. Here, chef Thomas Keller, the mastermind behind nearby French Laundry and New York’s Per Se, creates decadent doughnut delights, using brioche as his bread base, which he then stuffs with such ingredients as rich chocolate ganache or a lighter, in-season fruit filling.

If you’re more of a traditionalist, try Round Rock Donuts, in Round Rock, Texas, where you can sample honey-glazed doughnuts, fresh from the fryer (if you’re lucky). The bakery prepares its doughnuts with the same tried-and-true recipe it’s used for more than 80 years.

Some doughnuts have even received kudos from celebrities, like Brooklyn’s Peter Pan Bakery, which was recently given the approval of "30 Rock"'s Tina Fey in Esquire magazine. We can’t, ahem, repeat her direct quote here (Google it if you’re really that curious), but trust us when we say: She’s a fan. A big fan.

So whether you side with the tried-and-true original doughnut type, or opt for the more adventurous pastry concoctions, there’s a spot out there for you to get your fix. Check out our list of America’s Best Doughnuts, but please, try not to drool on the screen.

I love doughnuts, but oh, the work involved in making them: the (sometimes yeasted) batter, the rolling, the shaping, and then, finally, the frying. It makes me think of that old Dunkin’ Donuts ad with the guy who, stumbling around in the wee hours of the morning, keeps chanting: “Time to make the doughnuts time to make the doughnuts.”

Well, it is time to make doughnuts—doughnut muffins, that is. Aside from being much, much easier to make, these doughnut muffins, which we sell out of every morning at the Downtown Bakery, are simply delicious. A creamed batter yields a light, cakey interior, while a dip in melted butter mimics the satisfying “friedness” of a doughnut. A generous coating of cinnamon and sugar is the final irresistible touch.

Cream carefully for best results

In most muffin batters, the butter is melted and combined with the wet ingredients, not unlike pancake batter. The texture of my doughnut muffin is more cakelike than muffinlike (a doughnut-muffin-cake anyone?), and so I begin by creaming the butter with the sugar.

Creaming is a crucial step that too often gets short shrift. It incorporates air into the batter, which is especially important for mixtures such as this one that are too heavy to rely solely on chemical leavens, such as baking powder and baking soda. The sugar cuts into the butter, creating tiny air bubbles that get further expanded during baking by the baking powder and the heat of the oven. Proper creaming, therefore, gives you a nice, light crumb.

Start with your butter at room temperature. Here’s where a lot of people go wrong with creaming. Butter that’s too cold won’t blend with the sugar, and butter that’s too warm won’t hold the pockets of air. Butter that’s the proper temperature is somewhat firm but soft enough to easily poke a finger into.

For best results, use the paddle attachment on a stand mixer and beat on medium, starting with the butter and then adding the sugar in a steady stream.

Cream for longer than you think. The most common mistake is to cream too little continue beating the butter until the mixture increases in volume, lightens to pale yellow, and the sugar granules no longer look obvious this may take as long as five minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice during creaming.

Stop before the butter looks curdled. Although undercreaming is more common, beating the sugar and butter too long will result in a mixture that’s grainy and looks somewhat curdled. You can still use it, but the results won’t be as light.

Cream with care. Look for a lighter color, an increase in volume, and less obvious sugar granules.

Alternate the wet and dry ingredients

The golden rule of muffin making—don’t overmix—definitely applies to this hybrid. Overmixing creates gluten, which will toughen the muffin: an unfortunate rhyme but true nonetheless. It also encourages the dissipation of the gases produced by the baking powder this early dissipation can result in flat muffins.

I mentally divide the dry ingredients into four additions and the wet into three. These small amounts, added gradually and evenly, prevent overmixing.

Alternate the dry and wet. Adding the wet and dry ingredients alternately helps keep muffins tender.

Dip and roll for doughnut flavor

While the muffins bake, melt the butter for dipping. If you like to keep things neat, you can dip just the tops of the muffins into the butter and then the cinnamon sugar that way you can use the bottom as a handle and keep your fingers from touching the butter or sugar. But I like to brush the melted butter over the entire muffin and then roll it in the cinnamon sugar. After all, we’re trying to dress up a muffin to seem like a doughnut, and it’s much more convincing if the entire muffin wears the disguise.

Bouchon Bakery

I’ve wanted to visit Bouchon Bakery for a very, very long time. So when I heard that a location had finally opened in Beverly Hills, I took the first opportunity to hop in my car and head on over.

The bakery is located on the first floor of Bouchon Bistro. The bakery front is quite small. After we got our baked goods we headed out to one of the courtyard tables to enjoy the food and view.

I really love the fountain and courtyard that sits between Bouchon and The Montage Hotel.

We got a pain au chocolat. Buttery, flaky on the outside, with just a little bit of chocolate on the inside. This was a yummy croissant.

We also got the chocolate chip cookie. The cookie was chewy with just the right amount of chocolate. I really enjoyed this cookie and realize I must have done something wrong when I attempted the ad hoc chocolate chip cookies. I’m going to retry the recipe again very soon.

We also got a TKO, which is a Thomas Keller Oreo. It’s made with a dark chocolate shortbread and a marshmallow creme. I like the bittersweet chocolate shortbread. I didn’t care too much for the marshmallow creme, it was a little too sweet for me.

Finally, of course, we had to get macarons. I got one of each color. The macarons were quite large and very good. I didn’t care for some of the fillings, but the cookie shells were a perfect balance of airy and chewy. I could eat macaron shells all day.

I loved my desserts and I’ll definitely be back. Especially since I ate all my macarons already. Next time I’ll have to eat at Scarpetta again too. It was just calling out my name as I was leaving.

Bouchon’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I recently purchased a copy of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon book. I don’t often buy cookbooks as I find that they spend too much time collecting dust and I only try a handful of recipes out. But there’s something about Thomas Keller’s books. I love the writing, the format, just about everything.

I love visiting Bouchon bakery, so being provided with the recipes and tips to make TK’s baked goods is really great. I’m determined to bake my way through most of the book.

After spending an evening reading the book, I chose his chocolate chip cookies as my first recipe. I always buy the chocolate chip cookies when I’m at a Bouchon Bakery. While my favorite chocolate chip cookie will likely always be the New York Times/Jacque Torres’ recipe, Bouchon makes a chocolate chip cookie with strong hints of molasses and dark brown sugar that is really good too.

Despite the recipe looking easy enough, Keller’s recipe is full of very precise steps. I have to confess, I tried to skip some of these precise steps and I think it might account for why my cookies don’t look quite as good as the ones I purchase at the bakery.

Nevertheless, they taste good. I loved the enormous size. I was a little taken aback that the recipe makes only six cookies after so much work, but they were six very, very big cookies. The insides is fudgy and chewy, the outside crunchy. You can definitely detect the molasses flavor, which adds a nice wintery touch to these cookies.

Hopefully I stick to my goal about baking my way through the book. I definitely want to eventually make TK’s famed macarons and chocolate bouchon and there’s a couple other holiday cookie recipes I have bookmarked.

Watch the video: Special trip to Bouchon Bakery in Yountville (October 2021).